IN an embarrassing moment for embattled South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, the Labor leader admitted while in in Crystal Brook on Saturday he didn’t know who the local Labor candidate was for the March 15 state election.
The seat, seen as crucial for Labor to retain office, is to be contested by candidate Marcus Connelly, the nephew of a late former Speaker in the Don Dunstan era.
Mr Weatherill was visiting a command station for the Country Fire Service at Crystal Brook, near Port Pirie, when he was asked by Fairfax Media about Mr Connelly's absence.
He replied: “Who is Marcus Connelly?”
After being told he was the local candidate Mr Weatherill continued that he was on a “flying visit so we’re just popping in here”.
He praised the dedication and skill of firefighters involved in the marathon Bangor blaze then inspected the incident control room.
When he emerged the said to the Premier he was surprised he didn’t know who the candidate was. Mr Weatherill smiled and said "yes".
He said Mr Connelly was probably not available and reiterated that he was “just coming through this big area”.
Later, talking to another reporter, Mr Weatherill mentioned that the Labor Party was seeking to promote “our Labor Party candidate” but did not mention Mr Connelly by name.
Earlier, when contacted by Fairfax Media, Mr Connelly said he was unaware of the Premier’s visit.
This incident comes barely 24 hours after Mr Weatherill said he was prepared to do "whatever it takes" to present a unified government ahead of the March 15 state election.
The newly-created 'faceless man' in Port Pirie politics, Marcus Connelly said he was 'disappointed' that the Premier had not known who he was.
"I can understand that he is extremely busy and that there are a lot of new candidates, but that is disappointing," he said.
"He has probably only met me once.
"Coming through my region, he should have some idea who the Labor candidate is.
"I had a phone call about it later in the day. To be fair to them, there was a courtesy phone call."